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Tom Mix, Published June 23 2013

Roger Maris charity auction reports 111 items stolen from storage facility

FARGO – The Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament’s annual charity auction started out with bad news, but quickly refocused on the spirit of the event, which is to raise money for good causes.

The tournament’s auction chairman and coordinator Jerry Rostad said that a storage facility located in north Fargo – which stores items the tournament includes in its live and silent auctions – was burglarized sometime last month.

Burglars reportedly used bolt cutters to break the lock on the storage locker and made away with 111 items according to Rostad’s inventory list.

Of those items, 76 were autographed baseballs signed by various baseball Hall of Famers and past tournament celebrity guests including Whitey Ford, Paul Molitor, Rollie Fingers, Billy Crystal, and Bob Costas. Other items missing were approximately 20 DVD copies of the film “61*”, which were autographed by members of the cast and crew.

Autographed baseballs are historically among the top-grossing items at the auction. An autographed baseball from New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera had a winning bid $375 on Sunday.

The theft put a dent in the number of items that were put up for bid at the auction event that was held on Sunday at the Holiday Inn.

“We had to scale back,” Rostad said of the auction.

Rostad said the theft was discovered when preparation for the tournament began earlier this month. No report of the theft had been filed with the Fargo Police Department, but Rostad wanted to get the word out in the event the burglars try to pass off the stolen merchandise on online bidding sites or local pawn shops and sports collectible hobby stores.

“It’s not about getting the items back,” Rostad said. “I don’t know if we will get them back, but after something like this happening you feel a little bit violated.”

Not all was lost. Over 75 sports, music and other collectible items were put up for bid during the live auction.

The highest-grossing item was a full-sized Minnesota Vikings “Purple People Eaters” football helmet autographed by Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and Gary Larsen, which netted a $3,000 winning bid.

A Henry Firearms “Golden Boy” .222 LR rifle with commemorative serial number recognizing the 30th anniversary of the Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament went for $2,100.

Andy Strasberg, known as Roger Maris’ No. 1 fan, made his annual contribution to the auction. The centerpiece of Strasberg’s donated items included a lot of eight original, unpublished photos of Roger Maris from Strasberg’s personal collection.

“It’s time that other people get to appreciate those unpublished images of Roger,” said the 64-year-old Strasberg. “Each photo has a unique story behind it. The general public has never had an opportunity to see or enjoy them. I thought this would be a good year to get them out and raise money for the event.”

One of the images was a personal photo taken by Strasberg of an original painting depicting Maris and teammate Mickey Mantle.

The significance behind the image of the painting was that the original painting of Maris and Mantle was to be used for the cover of Time Magazine during the week of Sept. 8, 1961 until it was bumped from cover consideration because of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Strasberg snapped a photo of the original artwork while visiting a museum in Washington D.C.

“I thought it was such a unique thing,” Strasberg said. “It’s such a great picture and to me it’s more than baseball. It’s from such a critical time in the country’s history and that painting was going to be the cover.”

The photos generated a total of $535. All proceeds of the live and silent auctions go to the tournament’s charities, which include the Roger Maris Cancer center, Fargo Shanley High School and Hospice of Red River Valley.

Chuck Erickson, 67, of Devils Lake, N.D., contributed 12 items to the live auction, including a mint-condition, 1962 Pressman Times “Roger Maris Action Baseball” mechanical baseball board game.

The winning bid for the game was $350. Strasberg, who has one of the games in his collection, said Erickson’s game was the best conditioned one he has seen citing the unopened bag of game pieces.

“I could sell all the items on Ebay and make a lot of money,” said Erickson, who began collecting Roger Maris items when he was 11. “But I gave them away to help raise money for charity and this is a great way to do that. It’s fun to know that my items are a part of an event like this.”


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Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562